The East Coast Main Trunk Line

The line we travel on today used to be part of what was then known as the East Coast Main Trunk Line. This departed Auckland for Frankton, then across country to Morrinsville, Te Aroha, Paeroa, through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi, through the Athenree Gorge to Katikati, down to Tauranga, Te Maunga (Mt Maunganui), Te Puke and to its terminal at Taneatua.

  • 1880 the Main Trunk line reached Hamilton from Auckland
  • 1884 Hamilton - Morrinsville Section completed
  • 1886 Morrinsville – Te Aroha Section completed
  • 1898 the line reached Paeroa with the station being built close to where the current Information Center is sited.
  • 1897 – 1899 the survey for the line from Paeroa to Waihi was completed.
  • 1900 construction commenced
  • 1901 formation ready to Karangahake ready for track laying. Construction of the Tunnel commenced from both ends – length of tunnel 1190 yards on a grade of 1:50
  • 1901 – 1903 saw construction of the three key bridges completed at either end of the tunnel and across the river at Waikino.
  • 1904 after working 24 hrs days the break through of the Karangahake tunnel achieved.
  • 1905 (April) first coal deliveries to the Waikino Battery site
  • 1905 (November) Paeroa to Waihi section officially opened. The journey to Paeroa from Waihi took 55 minutes with stops at Waikino, Owharoa and Karangahake.
  • 1907 surveys undertaken for several routes to Bay of Plenty
  • 1912 (March) construction on the line to Tauranga formation commenced but suspended in November.
  • 1914 work recommenced on the formation but suspended again in March 1917 due to 1st World War shortages of staff.
  • 1918 – 1920 work again recommenced with the Athenree Station Yard completion along with pier work on the Waimata Stream piers. The Athenree to Katikati formations work completed in 1919.
  • 1924 track work commenced from Waihi to the 14-mile peg by the Public Works Dept with Armstrong, Whitworth & Co constructing the balance of the track to Te Puna.
  • 1925 the Waihi to Tahawai section completed.
  • 1925 the Paeroa Station being rebuilt on a site 700 meters north of the original site now at Taylor’s Ave - this is the station building now at Waikino.
  • 1928 (March) the 500 men of the Armstrong, Whitworth & Co completed the track
  • 1928 (June) New Zealand Railways take possession of the Waihi to Tauranga Section.
  • 1938 the remaining line to Taneatua opened.

Originally the line was meant to join up with the Gisborne to Napier railway line and work did commence from both ends. However two World Wars, an economic depression plus a terrible influenza epidemic interrupted development so the join through the Waioeka Gorge never occurred.